Life-saving onboard blood transfusions

Steve Deakin, Blood Bikes Manchester and Martin Booth, North West Air Ambulance Charity Paramedic. Photo Credit: MC2 Manchester

The North West Air Ambulance Charity (NWAA) in the UK has introduced life-saving blood supplies onboard its helicopters thanks to partnerships with Blood Bikes Manchester, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust Transfusion Service (SRFT), as well as funding from the Henry Surtees Foundation – a charitable organisation supporting those with physical injuries caused by accidents.

Helicopter emergency medical service NWAA flies more than 2,000 missions every year in the northwest region of England, and many of these are major trauma incidents. The charity estimates that two to three urgent transfusions will be required in the North West on a weekly basis, and thanks to this new ability for roadside and in-the-field blood administration, patients have a far greater chance of survival.

Both Blood Bikes Manchester and Salford Royal will provide packed red blood cells and pre-thawed plasma to the NWAA Barton base each day, transferred in temperature-controlled boxes, and any unused blood will be returned to the bikers and used in the hospital – ensuring none goes to waste. Steve Deakin, Duty Manager at Blood Bikes Manchester, said: “Our team of volunteers understand just how important it is to get blood to patients quickly; traditionally, we’ve focused on the swift transport of donations and samples to hospital, and it is an honour to now be working to bring blood and plasma to patients wherever they may need it.”

Salford Royal Haematology and Blood Transfusion Service Manager Deborah Seddon added: “Blood loss is a major factor in the survival of trauma patients, and anything that can be done to combat its detrimental effect could undoubtedly save lives. Our purpose is to deliver safe, effective treatment to patients across Salford, so we are incredibly proud to support the North West Air Ambulance Charity in delivering this service to people across the North West.”

Salford Royal has provided thorough training for paramedics and consultants at NWAA, ensuring they are highly capable of administering blood at the scene of an incident. Clint Jones, Consultant Anaesthetist at NWAA, commented: “After much preparation and planning, it is rewarding to launch the service onboard for the first time. Our thanks go to the Henry Surtees Foundation for their incredibly generous funding, and our partners at Blood Bikes Manchester, the North West Ambulance Service and Salford Royal for making blood on board possible.”

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